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New thread starting for the affordable housing discussion. Council is considering whether or not to up its goal from 10% to 15%
Kurt Firnhaber, as always, starts with a story. A family of 5 that got a Habitat for Humanity home after living in market-rate apartments then affordable apartments.
Our work in transportation, homelessness, etc has seen "better results with a regional approach," Firnhaber says. "And now, housing."
Council is also weighing whether to combine the low-income and middle-income housing goals into one, and whether or not to put them on a timeline.
Set in 2000, Boulder's goal is to have 10% of the total housing stock of the city be deed-restricted permanently affordable. They are at 7.5% right now (3,484 homes). Middle-income goal (3,500 homes by 2030; 1,000 of which would be deed-restricted) was set in 2016.
110 deed-restricted, middle-income homes have been saved/added to Boulder since then.
There has been "limited" public input on this. But there's a whole new website dedicated to it: Bouldercolorado.gov/housing/afford…
Half the public who *did* share their opinion wanted a higher goal than 15%; half were comfortable with that as a target.
The city is expecting to get 41 more middle-income homes with an annexation on Arapahoe.
21,580 households in BC pay more than 50% of income toward rent/mortgage.
Kristin Hyser, City of Boulder housing: "To reach anything beyond the 10% goal, it cannot be business as usual." Boulder will *have* to look at its regulatory processes to make sure they "facilitate" rather than "impede" the creation and preservation of affordable housing.
Presentation includes a 20% goal and how many homes need to be added by 2035 (wasn't in the staff memo): 6,542 additional units, roughly 409 per year. Boulder is currently averaging 175, according to the city, over the last 5 yrs.
To get to the 12% goal, Boulder will need an extra $6.1M per year. To get to 15%, $15M a year extra. 20% = $30M/yr.
Hyser: HAB's 20% goal is intended to be "highly ambitious."
We're breaking for council qs.
Meaning there is more presentation yet to come from staff.
Brockett: Did you consider a two-stage approach, like, by 2035 we'll hit 15% and then a larger goal after that?
Hyser: Our intention is to set a goal and continue to re-evaluate in time. (Boulder typically revisits affordable housing goals every 10 yrs)
Historically, 47% of the affordable units Boulder has are preserved, while 53% are new builds. (I think; housing presentations are always pretty confusing)
Firnhaber: Speaking for the 15% goal, I think it represents the updated inclusionary housing going from 20-25%, our new ADU policy, down payment assistance program "all the new things we are working on."
"I don't see us hitting the 20% goal without us .... actually adding more units to the city above and beyond the comp plan. Things like adding more density and more housing in other areas, which hasn't been fully vetted through council yet. That's why we landed on 15%."
Carlisle: "It was curious to see that, for example, when HAB had its sessions, nobody showed up. So where is the public on this?"
Asking how many ppl staff is citing as "limited" public engagement. "Was it 10? Was it 5?"
Firnhaber kind of dodging the question; doesn't know the answer.
Carlisle: "It's something I think should be noted going forward."
Morzel: Of the total countywide goal of 12%, how much is Boulder's?
Hyser: I don't have those numbers, but yes, Boulder makes up a big percentage.
Firnhaber: It was supposed to be 12% in every community, but other communities didn't start as early as Boulder and aren't as far along. It doesn't mean we stop at 12%.
Of the currently existing affordable homes across Boulder County (6,611, or 5%) Boulder has 53% of those, according to my very quick calculations.
Morzel: Is there any discussion about reducing new job growth in the county? We certainly need to do that in the city.
OK, moving back to the staff presentation. The regional housing partnership is suggesting a property tax (to go to voters in November) to create a housing fund. Revenue would be distributed to each city in proportion with population.
Measure could generate $20M/yr. City would receive $3.5-4M/yr
75% would go to communities; 25% would be competitive and to fund countywide programs for housing rehab, counseling and down payment assistance.
Property taxes would go up by roughly $100/yr for a $500K condo; $180/yr for a $900K single-family home.
Morzel: Why isn't Boulder getting more?
Brockett: It would be on population, not on assessed value?
Yes, Firnhaber says (not sure where Brockett is going with that; my brain hurts)
Carlisle: Why property and not sales tax?
Brautigam: When county did its polling, they polled for both sales and property tax. And in general, those forms of funding came out equally acceptable to ppl who were polled. Idea presented to city managers of the county...
They felt property tax would be most helpful to the city bc "sale tax is the most regressive form of tax that we have and we're trying very hard to help ppl who have a lower income."
City managers also want sales tax to go to cities' general funds bc they pay for core services.
No final decision has been made; various council will weigh in, and ultimately the county is the one putting this on the ballot.
Q from Jones: Do we have an avg cost of preserving vs average cost of building new?
Hyser: Preservation is lower: $50K/unit. New construction is closer to $100K/unit. But several factors influence that.
Another q from Jones: What's the benefit of consolidating the two goals (low-income and middle-income)?
Hyser: More to make it simple when we talk about it to the public. We wouldn't be losing the middle-income goal; it would just fold into the larger one.
Q from Brockett: Have we done any middle-income rentals in preservation?
No, Firnhaber says. BHP does rent some units below market, but they aren't deed-restricted and aren't counted toward the goal.
Brockett: Yes but would ppl be interested?
Hyser: We're having those convos.
Brockett's point is that it would be more cost effective, bc rents could still be high since middle-income can afford more. But we could still limit it to make it affordable to them.
Firnhaber: Current market rents in Boulder are within reach of middle-income
5 ppl signed up for public hearing. C'mon, Boulder. Housing is literally our biggest topic. And yet you never show up for this stuff!
Evan Freirich says Boulder needs to set an example for other BoCo cities. 12% "isn't enough. We really need to step up more."

Asks for a 20% goal.
Q from Young to Freirich: To go from 15-20% costs an additional $15M per year. That would be an OK thing?
Freirich: As a property owner, I have been personally enriched enormously by it. I can't say that those wage earners who spend $$ in stores have that ability as much.
"I'm not a great fan of increasing density to reach our goals. On the other hand, I would be interested in increasing density if it was 100% affordable."
"The value of our real estate here is probably $800B, $1T at this point."
Adam Swetlik, from HAB, is speaking for PLAN Boulder: urging a 15% goal. (Swetlik notes that, as part of HAB, he was for a 20% goal)
PLAN wants all new construction to happen in the Opportunity Zone, which should have a higher amount of required affordable housing.
Now speaking for himself, he thinks low turnout is bc most ppl support affordable housing. "I'm not really surprised we didn't get a lot of turnout."
Fair point. I still don't retract my earlier tweet though. You have to show up to be heard. Democracy only works if you participate.
Jennifer Burch, who has been homeless for 17 months, says to council, "If I have to go sleep in a shelter, will you go with me?"
Donna George wants to do a 12% goal. Is against "taking lands from ppl in the community who pay taxes," like the land that became BHP's Palo Park.
"Do not densify in order to put in this affordable housing." Her family moved here bc it was "rural, suburban. We didn't want to live in a dense city like Denver."
John Tayer, from the Boulder Chamber, supports a 15% goal. "We are seeing many of our young professionals having to move out in order to find housing that's affordable to them."
The number of middle-income housing has declined 6% since 1989. 53% of in-commuters would consider living in Boulder if they could find housing, and would consider a townhome; 1/3 said they would be willing to live in triplex, duplex, fourplex.
Calls for a revision of land use policies to allow for more "moderately sized" homes, denser development along transit corridors, and removing some regulatory hurdles. "These are all cost-free solutions."
Property tax "seems to be moving a little too quickly." Businesses pay a larger percentage than residential property owners. "We ask to work first on these no-cost solutions."
Q from Carlisle: Big high-end tech companies coming in. Would chamber be interested in working in equalizing jobs-housing imbalance to stop some of the pressures?
Tayer: To be clear on two things, the Boulder Chamber, we aren't focused on recruiting new biz to town. Most of our efforts are making sure biz that are here are successful.
When you talk about jobs-housing imbalance, we see that as an opportunity to address through increased housing.
Carlisle: We could send job zoning to other cities in the county. Is that reasonable?
Tayer: We've talked about approaching commercial land owners to take on residential development instead of commercial. That might get at some of the points you're making; it's a convo we'd have.
Lynn Segal: I'm not going to vote for that tax, of course. (The property tax to pay for affordable housing.)
That ends a very short public hearing. Council is going to discuss its housing goals.
Boulder's affordable housing goals, rather.
Brockett: "It feels like, for 2035, the 15% is a goal that is hard but achievable."
Wants to add a 20% goal to get to eventually.
Morzel puts emphasis on middle-income housing. But 15% is a good goal and agrees with Brockett. "I'd like it eventually to be 20%."
Weaver wants to look at luxury home taxes and second home taxes.
"Long-term, 20% is where we need to be. But 15% right now is essentially doubling our current level of affordability."
Young likes luxury and second-home tax, too.
Carlisle: 15% is a moving target.
Wants a second-home tax, too. "I'm loath to thinking of putting in a property tax. I see it as inequitable for the ppl and biz who have been living and working here who are trying to maintain as things are going up astronomically."
"It wouldn't be equitably distributed across the tax base. We would be the ones who are paying into it the most, the ones who have been here."
Jones: Agrees on 15% by 2035 "with an eye toward 20% in the future."
Council kind of wants to combine the housing goals, but still keep the 1,000 middle-income homes by 2035.
Morzel wants more middle-income: "While it's laudable, it's not enough."
Weaver: Yeah but you're taking away from lower-income
Morzel: "I know. But I think we're going to become a community very much of the haves and have-nots."
Brockett: It's OK to not have exact %, bc it's not like we'll quit when we get to 1,000 homes.
Weaver: My concern is when funding is tight, we get all middle-income bc it's cheaper.
Firnhaber: Middle-income goal defines them as home ownership units. They're actually pretty difficult to create, the way the world is now. Down payment assistance program could help.
Creating middle-income ownership units is actually more expensive than low-income rental units.
Council going to adopt 15% goal "with a vision that we see advancing to 20% beyond" 2035, as Jones says.
The language around 20% is being formally added to the resolution.
Morzel wants to look at a "fee for demolitions."
"A few of the demolitions are completely justifiable. Most of the demolitions we see are completely ridiculous."
Brockett: I want to include policies as well as taxes. I want to make sure that's part of our discussion.
Unanimous vote on the 15% goal.
Now they're chatting about the proposed property tax.
Carlisle: Not 2019. I think we need to hear from more of the community. The last ballot item on affordable housing went down.
Carlisle: Adam Swetlik said everyone supports affordable housing. I'm not sure that's always the case. It depends on where it goes and who it is.

Truer words were never spoken.
Carlisle: I don't want to consider it in 2019.
Carlisle: I do not think property tax is more equitable. It's going to just keep making underlying issues worse for the community.
Some census facts I recently pulled for another job I'm doing: 24% of homeowners in Boulder pay more than 30% of income to mortgage; 61% of renters pay more than 30% of income to rent.
Young says community might like second-home tax
Carlisle: I think they have to be across the board, so we couldn't do that.
Carr: There are restrictions in state law. It can't look like an income tax. Summit County has adopted a second home tax.
Young: I'd be open to seeing ballot language if it were done creatively and followed the sentiment of the community.
Preliminary polling was "kinda iffy" as to whether or not it would pass. "If you put it on the ballot and it fails, you really can't bring it up again."
Morzel: "The last time we did this was 2000." It didn't pass.
Jones: Given that affordable housing is the biggest issue ppl raise in our community.... I'm very interested in looking at mechanisms to "get on this. Things only get more expensive the more we wait."
Weaver: "I don't think it's going to be an easy sell in Boulder. While the time is now, this county and this town has had a hard time in the past saying yes to this."

Would not support a 2019 ballot measure. "If it goes down again, we're done. For a long time."
Jones: Building affordable units costs more here than in Longmont. It helps our region. "We're going to spend a lot more money to solve it here" vs a countywide approach.
Weaver: Idk why we'd build housing where ppl would then commute into Boulder.
Jones: Regional transit!
Morzel: It has to be a complete fair share for the city of Boulder. Or else I'd rather do it on my own. Just do a city of Boulder tax.
Brockett: There are free and cheap things we can do. But we need funding. It's a regional problem, I would love to see us make progress on it throughout the county.
Open to the 2019 ballot measure.
Wants to distribute funds on property valuation rather than population.
Council feels like the county fund giving, say, 90% to cities, and keeping 10% for admin/programs would be more palatable.
I think that's a wrap on this discussion. WAY behind schedule.

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